Mindfulness Practices
Rebirthing Breathwork and Spiritual Purification

by Stephen J. Johnson, Ph.D.

In 1974 I completed my Doctoral Dissertation and graduated from the University of Southern California with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. The topic of my Dissertation was The Effects of Yoga Therapy on Self-Concept, Conflict Resolution and Emotional Adjustment. The research was performed through the Kundalini Research Institute and I had significant results from my study evidencing the value of practicing Kundalini Yoga Therapy to support one’s personal well-being.

I taught Hatha and Kundalini Yoga for about 5 years as an extension of my psychotherapy practice. Yoga is still very much a part of my life today. Dr. Leo Buscaglia, Professor of Special Education and renowned lecturer on the topic of Love, had become an advisor, mentor and friend who sat on my doctoral committee. We had a mutual interest in Yoga and commenced our study together, taking classes on campus. Postures, called Asanas and breathing practises called pranayama, as well as the process of calming and centering the mind through meditation combined the three primary elements of my daily practice or Sadhana.

At the time I was also utilizing certain psychoactive plant medicines to enhance the depth of my work selectively with some of my clients. I was also being mentored by Dr. Gary Fisher who was studying the effects of hallucinogens such as LSD in the treatment of severely disturbed patients. He had published numerous journal articles on the topic.

In 1975 I met Leonard Orr at a Humanistic Psychology Conference held on the campus of UC Berkeley. Leonard was exploring the power of conscious breathing and had coined the term Rebirthing due to his awareness that circular breathing could unlock the effects of traumatic events, including birth trauma, held in one’s cellular memory. I was eager to experience the process and found it to be as powerfully effective in inducing an altered state of consciousness as the psychoactive elements I was working with at the time. Rebirthing has also been referred to as Maha Yoga or supreme Yoga. More currently, I have referred to it a Sacred Energy Breathing when we practice it at our men’s retreats and the practicums that I facilitate.

I went on to support Leonard in his pioneering work and along with two associates created Holistic Arts Productions and began to host Leonard’s Rebirthing Trainings in Los Angeles. We established the Rebirthing LA Community and then hosted Sondra Ray’s Loving Relationships Trainings, becoming the LA training center for Leonard’s and Sondra’s work. I joined the ranks of Certified Rebirthers and began offering my own workshops and trainings as well.

Sacred Energy Breathing Sessions became central to the therapeutic work that I was facilitating through my psychotherapy practice, seminars, practicums and retreats. Learning Leonard’s concepts regarding spiritual purification through the elements of earth, air, water, fire and mind has served as a tremendous influence on my life personally and professionally.

Rebirthing is essentially a conscious-connected breathing process that integrates body, mind and spirit, helping you to maintain a perpetual state of relaxation. As you clean and balance your energy field, a profound sense of well-being is produced. Effects on life are immediate. As negative patterns held in the mind and body start to dissolve, you begin to experience your natural center.

The primary purpose of the process is to release restrictions in your breathing and resistance held throughout your body since birth. The goal is to teach you to breathe energy as well as air. Consciously breathing energy is the secret to deep relaxation and therefore plays a big part in a tension free and dis-ease free lifestyle. Over the years that I have assisted people in learning how to balance and clean their energy fields I have witnessed significant transformation leading to successful results in their lives.

I have found circular breathing sessions to be quite beneficial in treating patients who experience a lot of anxiety and are prone to panic attacks. We have found that participating in approximately 10 one to two hour coached mindful breathing lessons can be just what the doctor ordered to train your nervous system to relax while transforming your consciousness and putting your life on the right path.

How often do you feel truly at ease within yourself? On the level of your thinking mind do you find a great deal of resistance in the form of judgment, discontent and mental projections? On the emotional level do you notice an undercurrent of unease, tension, boredom or nervousness? Both are aspects of the mind in its habitual resistance mode. We live in an age driven by a fast-paced culture endemic to states of anxiety leading to burnout and depression. The practices of spiritual purification are simple and free. They can be an antidote to the symptoms and core issues that plague our society.

In training oneself to live in a heightened state of Mindfulness it is helpful to engage in certain practices that concretize the experience making it real and vital to you. Anything worth taking the time to learn is worth incorporating into your life as a useful tool in your toolbox. Having the right tool for the task at hand can be most helpful.

Practices are like tools in that they are practical instruments for use in dealing with life’s challenges. We may not be able to control what lesson life has dealt us but with the right practices at hand we have a better opportunity to control how we respond to the challenge. Comprehending and practising spiritual purification through utilizing the elements of earth, air, water, fire and mind can weather proof you for the challenging journey through life.

Mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, relaxed and non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat Zinn) Mindfulness emphasizes the noticing and experiencing of thoughts, emotions, and sensations, in contrast to avoidance, suppression, or amplification. By learning to pay attention to our inner landscape, we can notice that emotions, thoughts, and sensations are events arising in consciousness, and are not necessarily factual. This separation allows us the space to wisely respond rather than react.

Being present to our senses has the ability to reduce emotional suffering and bring us into the moment where aliveness and pleasure can be experienced more fully. It is not only our subjective experience that validates this concept. Current research on mindfulness, neurobiology, somatic and behavioral therapies support the power of mindful awareness and the creation of intentional positive sensory experiences in supporting a life centered on well-being.

Through training in mindfulness, you will be able to step back from disruptive thoughts, emotions and behaviors and become more aware of what you are experiencing and the choices that lie before you. For couples, new skills may then be introduced so that each partner can utilize the building blocks of a more solid internal Self. Couples are more likely to develop relationships that are defined by balance, health and wisdom.

Our challenge today is how to find interior peace, compassion and wisdom within the heart of change as we engage with the exterior world. I have been inspired to offer this training for both men and women who are answering the call for self-improvement. I feel blessed to present this work to those traversing a spiritual path.

As one who is committed to living a conscious life, you are making the commitment to transform your life in mindful ways designed to transmit the skillful practices of consciously upleveling your Self, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I commend you and look forward to the time we will invest together on The Sacred Path.